So far, so good for USF on NCAA bubble
It's still two and a half days until USF men's basketball takes to the court at Madison Square Garden in the Big East tournament, but so far, the rest of college basketball hasn't hurt the Bulls' position on the NCAA Tournament bubble.
The Bulls dodged a bullet Sunday when Creighton held off to beat Illinois State in the MVC final -- had the Redbirds won, it would have made Creighton an at-large, effectively knocking the whole bubble down one spot. Instead, the Bulls have managed to move themselves off the precarious "last four in" according to ESPN.com analyst Joe Lunardi's latest projections. CBSsports.com's Jerry Palm still has USF in the "First Four" in Dayton as a No. 12 seed.
The most encouraging development might be that USF isn't considered the last of the 10 Big East teams projected as NCAA teams -- Lunardi now has Seton Hall in his "last four in," and should the Pirates lose Tuesday to Providence, they might play their way off the bubble. Connecticut, too, could be in jeopardy if the Huskies lose Tuesday to West Virginia, though a strong RPI could help offset a poor conference record and late slide. Yahoo.com's Bracket Big Board now has USF as the sixth team from the cut, ahead of Big East rivals West Virginia and Seton Hall.
What should Bulls fans watch for today? The West Coast final between Gonzaga and St. Mary's is largely harmless, as both teams are projected as being in the field already. USF will be pulling for Oral Roberts (RPI 38) to win the Summit rather than Western Illinois (RPI 165), though the Leathernecks lost by only one and 10 in two meetings with the Golden Eagles. Similarly, USF fans want VCU (RPI 50) to win the Colonial instead of Drexel (RPI 62), just to have less competition for at-large consideration.
Otherwise, it's a quiet day on the bubble, but be ready for more games in play on Tuesday ...